Nathan Cleverly's first shot at a major title will be available to American boxing fans on TV. (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
The big May 21 card in the United Kingdom is coming to American television, as premium channel Epix has ventured back into boxing to pick up a very attractive card for the hardcore boxing audience in the States.
In the main event, Juergen Braehmer defends a light heavyweight alphabet belt against Nathan Cleverly in what is Cleverly's first shot at a major title. The co-feature is arguably more highly-anticipated, as top 168-pound prospects James DeGale (10-0, 8 KO) and George Groves (12-0, 10 KO) do battle in a legitimate grudge match.
This is the second time Epix has picked up boxing, and by far the more interesting and more promising development. The first time out, the network landed the Vitali Klitschko vs Odlanier Solis bout in March. The fight, which lasted all of one round, wound up a joke and overall a fairly disastrous first foray into boxing for the network, and what made it a bit less than truly exciting was the thought that maybe Epix just wanted to swoop in for something it could call a fight for "the world heavyweight championship," with little real interest in boxing and nobody on staff to point out cards that could really bring them subscribers from the serious boxing audience.
This card, though, tells me that someone working at Epix knows what they're doing. None of these guys has any name presence in the States, and none of them are the "world heavyweight champion" or whatever. This is a fight card that in the States, appeals only to very serious boxing fans.
Unfortunately, Epix is unavailable on most TV carriers, including giants like Comcast and DirecTV, because they didn't feel the demand was there for another subscription service. They do also serve as a video on demand service online, and you can subscribe there, where I'm sure they'll have the fight live. Last time they did that, it was a disaster for Klitschko vs Solis, as I don't believe they were at all prepared for the demand from those signing up for free trial to see the fight, but maybe they've learned from those mistakes. I have no idea.
Still, either way, it's good to see another American network interested in boxing, and like I said, this tells me the interest is real, not just a way to add some programming, any programming.